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Suggestions for stock to take to class


#1

I somehow magically got into a Silver I class at Wm. C. Holland. So
I’m all set to go third week in August! Torch refresher, here I come!

I want to spend a fair amount of time working on making bezel
settings for cabs. Cabs I have lots of, but I have no sheet stock,
and I’d like to take my own as its quite expensive to buy there (.80
per gram, that’s like $24 per ounce for sterling). Besides I need to
get my next metals order out for other things I already know I need
so I might as well get what I might need for the class.

So what sizes of sheet stock might I take for bezel setting, and
what types of bezel wire? I’ll be buying from Rio Grande.

Any suggestions for what to take with me would be appreciated. I’ve
got lots of Argentium round wire, some sterling pattern wire, but
virtually no sheet or anything else.

Sojourner


#2

The cabs I have for mounting are of all sizes, from about 10mm x 8mm
up to 40mm. Many are oval, but many are freeform. I have various
kinds of jasper, plume agate, burmese jadeite, charoite, sugilite,
variscite, and I forget what all else. I like to set in bezels that
are fitted to the shape of the stone, but I also sometimes like to
set as part of a larger piece (so the total piece is larger than the
stone itself).

Sorry, should have included that in the first posting.

Sojourner


#3
    So what sizes of sheet stock might I take for bezel setting,
and what types of bezel wire? I'll be buying from Rio Grande. 

If you were to talk to Ken Valen, he’s all about the 18 gauge bezel,
which is what I learned with. The course will most likely include
workshop tools such as a rolling mill so you could always reduce the
material to thinner for different style (even down to the 30 gauge
that bezel wire is if memory serves correctly, never used the
stuff). What I like to do is take round wire and roll it down to my
desired thickness, make the bezel, have some emery on a hard surface
taped down and give it a good going over to make that contact side
for soldering perfectly flat to get the most contact (flow solder
flow). As you mention having lots of wire you’ll find this idea
uself. Flat stock will be cut into strips, the longer the piece the
less the waste (in theory at least), something to think about when
deciding the demensions of you ordered stock.

Good luck and have fun,
David Woolley
Fredericton, NB, Canada


#4

Hello Zen Sojourner,

I highly recommend buying fine silver bezel strip. Rio carries
several gauges and sizes. I like the 28 ga and get it in two widths,
1/8" and 1/4". If you need a thinner gauge, mill it down - if you
need it narrower, trim it with a paper cutter. It moves very nicely
for setting, and can be reinforced by soldering on sterling wire if
the design will subject the fine silver to unusual wear

It occurs to me that you could also mill your A.925 wire and anneal
it for bezel strips. I’d also suggest buying the A.925 solders and
using them on all sterling… at least that’s my plan. :slight_smile:

Have lots of fun with your class,
Judy in Kansas


#5

Zen,

Congrats on the class - should be fun and energizing!

For bezel settings, I usually use 24g for the floor.

Walls can be anywhere from 30 - 20g, depending on the stone and the
bezel effect I’m going for, and are pretty exclusively fine silver.
Probably the most versatile is the 28g.

I’ve used both bezel wire and cut my bezel from sheet. I really
appreciate bezel wire, and keep an assortment on hand – even the
wider ones cut down well for adjusting height.

Hope this helps!
Karen Goeller
@Karen_Goeller


#6
So what sizes of sheet stock might I take for bezel setting, and
what types of bezel wire? I'll be buying from Rio Grande 

Hello Sojourner,

Are you looking for bezel wall material or a base sheet or both?

Typically for backing earrings or small pendants you can get away
with 24 gauge, however if the item is large it could possibly warp
when soldering giving you an uneven backing. For backing large items
I like to use 22 gauge sheet and if I want something substantial or
hefty 20 gauge is not out of the question, albeit it can be a little
overkill.

For bezel walls it boils down to personal preference and
workability. The thinner the material the easier it will be to shape
and or form. Here again I personally prefer 18 to 20 gauge for a
thick walled look. I don’t think I’d go anything over 18 gauge
though. Make sure you anneal the heck out of the setting before you
start the hammer setting process or use fine silver for the heavy
wall material.

Hope this helps.

Sincerely,

Thackeray Taylor
Rio Grande Technical support
800-545-6566 ex 13903


#7

I am surprised to read two posts suggesting 18g bezel! I’ve never
ised thicher than maybe 26. Fine silver bezel wire is not available
fron Rio or IJS thicker than that. Of course, I could cut my own, or
special order, but the question is, how many of you (us?) use thick
bezel? You don’t need the thickness to hold the stone, so I assume
it’s a question of looks, right? I’ll have to give it a try.

You don’t use it that thick in gold, too, do you?

–Noel


#8
You don't need the thickness to hold the stone, so I assume it's a
question of looks, right? I'll have to give it a try. 

It’s both looks AND durability. Thin bezel stock may be fine in some
designs, but in others, especially in rings and with facetted stones,
the bezel may be subject to substantial wear, and thin stock simply
wears out, sometimes before the rest of the ring. Thicker stock
won’t. The trade off is that setting a thick bezel is done
differently. You don’t just bend it over and burnish. You’re using a
chasing tool or hammer handpiece to hammer the bezel top surface
pretty much straight down, which “upsets” it, moving metal over the
stone. Only after it’s pretty much over to the stone, do you then
finish up cleaning things with a burnisher or graver. If you look at
commercially produced jewelry, you’ll find that these thicker bezels
are more common than the thin stock, simply because a production
ring made with a 1 mm thick bezel wall can accomodate a certain range
of stone size, not just one precise one. Perhaps the main reason this
isn’t so common in hand made fine art jewelry, is simply that setting
these takes a bit more experience, and sometimes, in the case of
using a hammer handpiece, a substantial investment in the tool. But
don’t let that discourage you from learning this. Hammer handpieces
are fast, and many setters use them. But that same speed can lead to
mistakes too, and at least two of the best setters I’ve ever met who
set fragile costly stones in just about any heavy bezel you could
imagine, do it with a chasing hammer and chasing tools, not the
automatic hammer handpiece.

Peter


#9

Hi Noel, I often use very thick bezels on my 18kt gold jewelry.
usually 1.5 to 2 mm, sometimes even heavier. It depends a great deal
upon the design and how I want the piece to look when the stone is
set. Many of my colleagues do this also. Sometimes work that is
minimalist requires a substantial edge and sufficient height or
breadth to give an aesthetic definition and proportion to the
simplicity of the form.

It also makes it quite a different setting experience, and a very
enjoyable one once you become accustomed to forcibly pounding the
metal over the stone.

Happy hammering,
Michael David Sturlin
www.michaeldavidsturlin.com


#10

Noel,

I am teaching a bezels class at Metalwerx next week, so I have been
busy preparing all types of bezels for this class. I can’t imagine
using a bezel material thinner than 28 ga., as the metal is so thin
that while it will bend over the stone easily, it will also wear out
quickly. I would use a bezel this thin or earrings, for example,
since they do not see as much abrasion as a ring bezel, and light
weight is definitely a good thing when making comfortable earrings. I
will also have students make bezels from stock that is heavier than
18ga. These are set using a hammer and punch, and have a very
different look. There is also enough metal around the stone to do a
polished inside edge on the bezel, to give it a perfectly flowing and
finished look. Of course, if you are planning to cut a seat in your
bezel with setting burs (for a faceted stone perhaps), then you
certainly want a bezel with enough material that you will be able to
accomplish this without cutting through the bezel wall.

I also NEVER use fine silver bezel wire. I know that a lot of people
do (and a lot of people use a lot of easy solder, too),but I want the
extra strength that sterling adds to the bezel. If it is that easy to
bend closed, it will be easy to bend open, and stones may come loose
eventually. After 30 years of making jewelry professionally, I have
seen people do amazing things to their jewelry! Incidentally, I also
NEVER use stepped bezels. Just don’t like the way they bend — looks
sloppy to my eye.

A survey of all the artists in our gallery showed that all of the
bezels were at least .5mm thick, and most were closer to 1mm. We do
carry some silver in the gallery, but most of the work is in 18k,
22k, and platinum. I just finished a piece with a bezel wall
thickness of 2mm. You are correct in stating that I wouldn’t need a
wall this thick just to hold the stone-it is an aesthetic choice. But
I am also setting diamonds into the outer wall of the bezel, so the
extra thickness allows me to do this without compromising the
strength of the mounting or having the culets of the diamonds contact
the bezel set stone.

There are also different ways of actually setting the bezel. Todd
Reed’s work, for example, uses a technique that most setters would
find “incorrect.” The top isn’t flat. But he has made it into a style
that is recognizable as his own.

Find out from the instructor what types of bezels will be taught,
and what type of material will be used. Every instructor teaches a
little differently. Personally, I prefer to supply the metal and
stones for my classes, so everyone is working on the same basic
projects. When they return to their own studios, they can go in their
own individual directions, and they will know both HOW and (most
importantly) WHY. If you are curious, I will be happy to send you a
copy of the handout I’ve prepared for my students, outlining the
materials and techniques. Not the same as being in the workshop, but
you’ll see how many different types of bezels can be done.

Doug
Douglas Zaruba
33 N. Market St.
Frederick, MD 21701
301 695-1107
@Douglas_Zaruba


#11

I would take 20 to 24 gauge, with maybe some 18 for a few stones. It
depends on whether you plan to file the backing flush with the bezel,
or leave it sticking out as a decorative edge. You wouldn’t want such
an edge to be too thin…looks cheap. Keep in mind that you can also
saw out most of the backing on some designs, after you solder the
bezel on. This leaves you with another piece to use as the backing
for a smaller stone. It all depends on what your design for the
jewelry piece will be. Avoid going too light with larger stones, at
first, as you might tend to get warping if you overheat. As a
beginner (again) you may burn up a few. Do not despair! Keep
practicing, and you will soon get very good at it. It’s not that
hard to do…one just has to learn how, and Practice! Have a great
time.

P.S. Have you asked the school what gauge they sell to students for
this class?

M’lou Brubaker, Jeweler
Goodland, MN
www.craftswomen.com


#12
    Have you asked the school what gauge they sell to students for
this class? 

I e-mailed the instructor but he has not e-mailed me back. I didn’t
specifically ask about what gauges he’s using since I kind of figured
at $25 an ounce, he’s apparently planning to supplement his teaching
fee with a tidy profit off the materials. I don’t think he’d be
pleased to know I’m planning on bringing my own.

Not to be unfair or anything, but I’m REALLY poor and (especially
having dropped an unecessary $150 or so earlier this year due to not
realizing the supplier was charging by line item instead of total
quantity ordered so I WASN’T getting the quantity discount) I really
can’t afford to pay any more for materials than I absolutely have to.

I’m currently looking at no more than 8 hours a week during the next
semester. I really need another job! Sheesh!

Sojourner


#13
    It occurs to me that you could also mill your A.925 wire and
anneal it for bezel strips. 

Do you mean flattening it in a rolling mill? I’m not sure how this
would work, because wouldn’t the edges be irregular then?

I am getting Argentium solder. I didn’t want to do any Argentium
soldering until I had the proper solder.

Sojourner


#14
    The trade off is that  setting a thick bezel is done
differently. You don't just bend it over and  burnish. You're
using a chasing tool or hammer handpiece to hammer the bezel top 
surface pretty much straight down, which "upsets" it, moving metal
over the stone. Only after it's pretty much over to the stone, do
you then finish up cleaning  things with a burnisher or graver ....
with a chasing hammer and chasing tools .... 

and

    It also makes it quite a different setting experience, and a
very enjoyable one once you become accustomed to forcibly pounding
the metal over the stone. 

OK, I’m willing to give it a try, scary as it sounds. Could you or
anyone familiar with doing this describe the basics? Using hand
tools, as there’s no way I can get a hammer handpiece for quite some
time to come. Maybe I can get the instructor to help me learn to do
this.

Thanks.
Sojourner


#15
    For bezel walls it boils down to personal preference and
workability. The thinner the material the easier it will be to
shape and or form. Here again I personally prefer 18 to 20 gauge
for a thick walled look. 

Could I use the sterling rectangle wire RG sells (2, 3, and 4 mm
wide, 1 mm thick, or 18g) for the bezel walls? I don’t have a bench
shear and don’t look forward to cutting off long thin strips of sheet
with a jeweler’s saw…

I’m also not sure how tall the bezel wall should be. I know this is
at least partly determined by the size of the stone you’re setting.
Some of mine are quite large, but not necessarily particularly thick.
Is there a rule of thumb for determining this?

Thanks.
Sojourner